Co-Authoring is Worth Its Weight in Gold
by Nicole Moleti, co-author of pen name Addison McKnight
Krista and I became co-authors by accident. We currently write together under the pen name Addison McKnight and we were both writing for publications and online sites for years when I had an amazing idea for a fiction thriller. The idea was based on a woman that saves her eggs and when she goes to use them years later, they are gone. Krista loved my idea and called my constantly telling me what I should include, or sharing her recent research on egg donors. Finally, I said, “Maybe you want to write this book with me? You seem pretty passionate about it!” She agreed to try and away we went.
We knew nothing about fiction writing. We knew nothing about the publishing industry. But we were so passionate about this story, that we just made time for it in our busy schedules. Within six months we had what we thought was an amazing sparkling manuscript.
And then…. we tried to sell it. You all know what happened after that. We dove into every podcast, writing book, publishing book and website we could find. We still laugh about the time that Krista searched for and bought a book called “How to Write a Book” after the fact, and we learned so much about all that we done wrong. One of the classes or podcasts mentioned at which point in the book our main character should have her arc and we had to google “arc.” To say we were “green” would be generous. But the amount of time we laughed or squealed with excitement at a great idea or small word of encouragement within our newly found online writing community made it all fun and exciting.
We actively tried to secure an agent, and we had 55 rejections before we stopped and decided to reconsider our plan of action. We ended up going to a writing conference with a “pitch-fest” where we live-pitched thriller agents. We always say if we had to do that alone, we would have died. We likely wouldn’t have done it at all. The daunting task of live-pitching alone would be enough to scare us off. But there’s also the expense.
That was the first time we shelled out hard cash on our dream, and it was decidedly easier to swallow cut in half. There was a half of a hotel, half of the uber ride to the train station, oh and the couple’s discount at the event. Yes…. we said we were a couple. Don’t judge. We kind of are. And we were broke!
We learned throughout this journey, this whole writer thing…it’s not cheap. We got our agent, and then we got an editor, and then we got a book deal, and then we got a lawyer and a web designer and another editor and fifty other things that we had to pay for … cut in half!
So, besides the finances, there’s the process. Writing an entire book can be daunting. Writing a half of a book? Much more doable. Krista and I have 6 kids and 6 jobs between us. A thriller should be about 90 thousand words and 45 thousand words is just at about each of our thresholds. Half of the word-count duty allows us to continue with our other jobs, be attentive mothers, be pleasant wives, and enjoy our role as dual authors.
And then there’s the editing process. First things first, we have each other for the first round of editing. This a priceless gift of a partnership. You write a chapter and send it to your partner and ask for feedback – FOR FREE. For writers that have regular 9-5’s and try to squeeze in writing – this is where the partner is a home run. And let’s face it. Most writers are holding down jobs and writing as a side-hustle. Your partner will do half of the heavy-lifting and it’s priceless.
And then when you feel your ready you can send your work to a “real” editor that you pay! (divided by two.) This is the dreaded part of the author’s journey where notes and “suggestions” come flying at you from a seasoned professional that basically say in no uncertain terms, “change all of this or your whole book is ruined.” For one, this feedback is best absorbed divided by two. It can be emotionally traumatic. And secondly, the amount of work involved with making your work sparkle…. also best absorbed by two. Unless your Stephen King, it’s likely a ton of work.
When the manuscript is ready to go out for bid to the publishers this when the writer experiences the worst anxiety of their lives. This is when it’s great to have a partner to share that angst with. You have a built-in person, who totally gets what you are going through, to share your fears, to talk each other off the ledge. And then, God willing, you sell your book. And at this point you can jump up and down with your partner. You can share in each other’s success.
And then…the check gets cut.
It’s divided by two.
That’s the single only moment in this whole sordid affair that you wish you didn’t have a partner.
And that’s the only moment. It’s fleeting.
You find out you got a two-book deal. The second book is due in mere months. You’re stressed.
But then you don’t care about splitting your check anymore because you remember with a sigh of relief…you only have to do half.